- North America,
- United States
Some call Chicago the Windy City because of the cooling breezes of Lake Michigan, but we think itís because this city will blow you away. Let Visa Signature show you why this big city is a cultural and entertainment capital. After spending a day touring fascinating Chicago landmarks, rest your feet and enjoy dinner and a movieóall under one roof. Get personalized service with complimentary dessert when you purchase movie tickets at the posh Gold Class Cinemas with your Visa Signature card.
See + Do
Millennium Park, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois 60603
This 24.5-acre park, built on top of a former rail yard beside the Art Institute, is a welcome oasis downtown. Although the focal point is Frank Gehry's dramatic Jay Pritzker music pavilion, the real attraction is Spanish artist Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain: Digital faces of Chicago residents are projected onto the side of a 50-foot-high tower, and periodically, often to the surprise of onlookers, the faces spit water into a shallow pool. British sculptor Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate, another popular sight, is a 66-foot-long, 33-foot-high ovaline sculpture that looks like a silvery reflective bead of mercury; it reflects the Chicago skyline and clouds above like a fun-house mirror. The park has an ice-skating rink in winter and a 300-space bike garage where two-wheel commuters can park, take a shower, rent or repair bikes, and grab a snack.
Chicago, Illinois 60605
Tel: 312 663 8920
Top-of-the-world views and nosebleed prices match Chef Jean Joho's lofty Alsatian creations at this restaurant on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange. Power brokers and foodies alike are drawn to this swank dining room for the slow-braised veal shank with wild chanterelles and Maine lobster in Gewürztraminer butter and ginger. Sharing the spotlight is Everest's 1,400-label wine list managed by sommelier Stephen McGinnis. The seven-course tasting menu is the best way to sample Joho's creations; a three-course pretheater dinner is also available.
Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 5:30 pm to 9 pm, Fridays 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm, Saturdays 5 pm to 10 pm.
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Tel: 312 280 1602
This antique shop may be just a few blocks removed from the extravagantly modern chain stores that dominate Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile, but its overflowing tables of housewares, well-worn hardwood floors, and old-time charm are straight out of a bygone era. The term P.O.S.H. was once a popular acronym for "port out, starboard home," the preferred way for Brits to travel by ocean liner to their colonies in India and Southeast Asia (being on the north side of the ship helped them avoid sunburn). Over time, it evolved into British slang for all things luxurious—and that's what you'll find here. The store is brimming with vintage (and often unused) restaurant china, creamers from 1920's diners, and all sorts of other reasonably priced Old World flea market finds. Owner Karl Sorenson makes several reconnaissance trips to Europe every year to stock the store, so there are always new treasures to choose from.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.
See + Do
Lincoln Park Zoo, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois 60614
Tel: 312 742 2000
Occupying a beautifully landscaped strip of park in between the perfectly manicured streets of tony Lincoln Park and the shimmering waters of Lake Michigan, the Lincoln Park Zoo is the nation's oldest zoo (it was founded in 1868). It's also one of the last of its kind: A free—and incredibly well maintained—neighborhood zoo. Although it's charmingly small, you should still allow yourself two to three hours to wander the paths among landmark Georgian Revival brick buildings and colorful flower gardens. Main attractions include the Great Ape House (completely rebuilt in 2004) and the centrally located Sea Lion Pool.
Grounds open 9 am to 6 pm, buildings open 10 am to 5 pm. Call ahead for restricted hours in the winter and extended weekend hours in the summer.
Frontera Grill/Topolobampo, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Tel: 312 661 1434
Locals and tourists line up for gourmet Mexican fare at these lively River North twins (Topolobampo's the upscale one). Rick and Deann Bayless have been wowing diners with their pioneering new takes on tacos, beans, and sauces since 1987. The dishes, all made with fresh organic ingredients, include made-to-order tortilla chips with two salsas, pato pibil (slow-roasted duck cooked for hours in banana leaves with sour orange and achiote), and arroz a la Tumbada (a brothy Mexican paella of fresh Florida shrimp, Dungeness crab, scallops, and baby octopus simmered with roasted tomato salsa). Don't miss the fabulous raw bar, Saturday brunch, or Topo's $75, five-course tasting menu. A local crowd also gathers for the wide selection of margaritas and Mexican beers. Not surprisingly, the Baylesses have built a mini empire around their award-winning cuisine; you can buy cookbooks, sauces, and more in their on-site stores.
Frontera Grill open Tuesdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:20 pm to 10 pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 pm to 11 pm, Saturdays 10:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 pm to 11 pm.
Topolobampo open Tuesdays 11:45 am to 2 pm and 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm, Saturdays 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm.
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Tel: 312 440 1300
A self-proclaimed clotheshorse, former lawyer Adam Beltzman was having a hard time finding the clothing—playful but still sufficiently refined—that he prefers. So he opened his own modern interpretation of the classic (and classy) men's clothing store. His carefully edited selections from ultratrendy lines include cashmere sweaters from anthony + moe, denim from Habitual and Joe's, and impeccably detailed dress pants and shirts from Theory. There are great gift items, too, including contemporary cuff links from Duncan Quinn, Linea Pelle belts, and a smattering of vibrant Ted Baker ties.
Open Sundays and Mondays noon to 5 pm; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays 11 am to 7 pm; Thursdays 11 am to 8 pm; Saturdays 11 am to 6 pm.
See + Do
Willis Tower (Sears Tower), Illinois
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Tel: 312 875 9696
Designed by renowned architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, this 1,353-foot landmark tower is one of the five tallest in the world (though Chicagoans, who measure buildings by the highest occupiable floor, would beg to differ). Some 1.5 million visitors take the ear-popping trip up to the 103rd-floor Skydeck every year. On a clear day you can see all the way to Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois (about 40–50 miles); step onto one of the glass-floored balconies, and you can peer past your feet all the way to the ground. Inside, there are knee-high peepholes for kids, multilanguage maps and kiosks, and interactive exhibits. The best time to beat the crowds—and catch the sunset—is after 4 p.m.
Open daily April through September, 10 am to 10 pm; October through March, 10 am to 8 pm.
See + Do
The downtown Loop is a living museum of beautiful and significant buildings. Two great periods of innovation mark Chicago's architecture. The first followed the 1871 fire, when young architects including Louis Sullivan and Daniel Burnham rebuilt the city with modern "skyscrapers." The second began after WWII, when Mies Van der Rohe's International Style had its heyday with such buildings as the Lake Shore Drive Apartments and Crown Hall.
The best way to appreciate the city's fabulous skyline is by boat. From a 90-minute river cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady, you can see the landmark IBM Plaza building, designed by Mies van der Rohe, and Marina City, built in the 1960s by Bertrand Goldberg, with the maxim "there are no straight lines in nature." Its two round, 61-story towers, known as "the corncobs," are Chicago architectural icons.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation runs a gazillion bus, bike, river, and walking tours. All are led by volunteers, and no reservations are required for walking tours. Many depart from the CAF's storefront across Michigan Avenue from the Art Institute. Chicago Neighborhood Tours offer an up-close-and-personal look at the city's local tapestry. Chicago Trolley Charters stop at all the downtown attractions. Another don't-miss: A guided tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, conducted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.